Gable: Wrestlers in Business Network must show true & simple vision to create action

Updated: October 10, 2017

Editor’s Note: Wrestlers in Business Network (WIBN), a non-profit group that connects former wrestlers with today’s wrestlers, including providing employment opportunities while promoting the sport, currently has 15 different chapters around the country. A few are in North Carolina, where Dan Gable recently spoke to groups in both Raleigh and Charlotte, and shared with WIN editor the importance of these groups. The following appeared in the Oct. 10, 2017 issue of WIN.

WIN: What kind of impact are the WIBNs having on college wrestling programs?

GABLE: It is a relatively new organization and what it actually does is not set yet. In my mind, it is still forming. There is a vision there, but the vision is not totally clear yet. But there are great thoughts and once the vision becomes clearer, it should make an even bigger impact.

Originally, the Wrestlers In Business Network was formed to look out for the sport and to find good job opportunities for wrestlers, who knew there was an organization like WIBN to help them develop contacts. Or a company could call WIBN looking for a potential wrestler to hire.

But history has show that the Wrestlers in Business Network can do more than that. If you look at what happened at Cleveland State, when the school considered dropping the sport, there was a WIBN group there with strong business people who could reach the university president to help save the program. This showed that the WIBN not only takes care of wrestlers, but programs because of (the WIBN) influence in the community.


WIN: Why is this community business involvement important to wrestling?

GABLE: I’ve use the word authority the last few years when it comes to wrestling, which needs to show more authority in affecting society. If you look at college sports in this country, who has more authority than football? Nobody. Wrestling is not a sport that shows enough authority. But recently, it has become a building process for the sport to move up the ladder of authority. Wrestling had made adjustments to provide that authority.

At one time, we were higher than where we are now, but that was when there were fewer sports. With the emergence of Title IX, wrestling was hurt because there were no females competing and that made wrestling a target of sports to be eliminated. I like to believe that is changing today with the emergence of more women wrestlers and women’s programs.

I also believe that wrestling has advantages during this age of technology where young people are pushing buttons. Wrestling can be a good physical and mental sport for kids. I would say that most people would rate wrestling the toughest sport based on the way wrestlers train and all the disciplines they have to go through in a safe manner. Wrestling can become a symbol to what direction this country can be heading.


WIN: With the success of wrestling on the international level in this country and the additional television and online coverage of college wrestling today, it appears that wrestling is on the verge of becoming an even greater symbol for sports fans. Is that true?

GABLE: When people rub shoulders with this sport or they witness wrestling, they feel the benefits. A lot of sports that were sitting back and watching now look to wrestling for regaining authority. Wrestling has become more organized, which is why groups like WIBN are important.

If you look at Boise State, there was no WIBN chapter there. When Cleveland State threatened to drop wrestling, there was a WIBN there and the sport survived. If there was a WIBN group in Boise, I don’t think the idea of dropping the program would have been brought up.

The problem is that we are still in the learning process with these groups. Some are not as active as they were because they lack vision. If the WIBN is going to get from 15 to 50 or more chapters in this country, this needs to be put together in a simpler manner. This is what I’ve tried to share with the groups’ leaders. We are making progress, but we’ve got to speed it up more and we’ve got to become more efficient.

I believe WIBN is in the process of doing good things. I just don’t want to be saying they are in the process five years from now. I want to see accomplishments.


WIN: How should the WIBN turn their vision into action?

GABLE: There is a concern within the wrestling community that the WIBN just wants money. That’s not what wrestling should be going after now. Yes, there is money behind authority, but people won’t come out of the woodwork if groups like the WIBN just want money. Again, these groups need to be clear in what they want and where they are heading.

There are a lot of former wrestlers out there who are in fine positions today. But rather than just ask them to write a check, ask them to volunteer and become part of something special today. It can’t be just one or two guys. We need so many more former wrestlers and fans to get involved.